Encyclopedia of History
Home > Encyclopedia of History

Temple of Artemis at Ephesus



Reconstruction of the Temple of Artemis at Ephesus
Artist's reconstruction of the Temple of Artemis at Ephesus
One of the seven ancient wonders of the world.

"Great is Diana of the Ephesians" was the cry of the pagans of Ephesus in Asia Minor, when they realized that St Paul's preaching might destroy faith in their goddess Artemis (Diana was the Latin form of her name) and thus remove the livelihood of those who made and sold statuettes of the goddess to believers. The Artemis of Ephesus was a primitive Asiatic goddess, different in character from the Greek Artemis, goddess of the chase. The Temple of Artemis was the center of this pagan cult. It was built after a madman had set fire to an earlier Temple of Artemis on the same site in 356 BC. Many of the women of Ephesus sold their jewelry to help pay for the new temple. The architect's name was Deinocrates, and one of those who is thought to have decorated it is the famous sculptor Scopas. Excavations have revealed that the Temple, which was one of the supreme examples of the Ionic order, measured slightly more than 418 feet by 239 feet. The columns were about 56 feet high, and were unusual in that they were adorned on their lower parts with lifesize sculptured figures in relief.